It is 45 minutes until the sun will be up. I have managed to squeeze into every article of clothing that I own and waddle myself, fat as a tick, down the street and toward the bus stop. It is cold out, the kind of cold that will make the forecast of zero later in the week seem positively balmy. Standing at the corner, waiting for the traffic to pass, I blink several times in an effort to clear what I suspect may be a thin layer of ice from my eyeballs.
It has been quite some time since I’ve seen him, and holy moley, there he is.
“Mornin’!”, he says.
I step to one side while Mike – was his name Mike? – zips by on a bicycle.
“Morning!” I call.
I haven’t seen him in well over a year.
Honestly, it’s just not that kind of relationship.
I live in a city and, like anywhere else, there are routines. I may not know you, but I know that you go to Starbucks. I know that you get off the bus four stops before me. I know that you have a dog and should hit that black wool coat of yours with one of those sticky-tape rolls… But I don’t know where you go when I don’t see you. And sometimes, that bothers me. These people we see every day but don’t really know, do they feel the same way about us?
I will board the bus shortly. I will see the man with the sculpted facial hair, the one whose clothes smell like cigarette smoke. I will see the older woman with the impeccable lipstick and the strikingly beautiful white hair. I will see the man in inadequate winter gear, the man with the profile of Aztec royalty.
Am I the woman in the sleeping-bag coat, the blonde with the iPod earbud in one ear?
And I turn to watch Mike – and his bicycle – already a block away, his tail light blinking redly into the distance.